Few people truly love cauliflower, broccoli's paler and less interesting cousin. But like many extremely boring things, cauliflower has a lot of practical uses. It's a high source of fibre and of Vitamins C and K, and contains healthy things like phytochemicals and antioxidants. It also ranks on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's "powerhouse" list of fruits and vegetables with a high nutrient density score (If you're wondering if that list is as sexy as it sounds, the highest-ranking item is: watercress).
"Cauliflower rice is a genius way to eat vegetables while pretending you're eating delicious carbs," said one HuffPost Canada editor who may have forgotten what delicious carbs actually taste like. It can also be a substitute for pasta or mashed potatoes, allegedly, and ground cauliflower is commonly used in pizza crust as a substitute for flour by people who can't eat gluten.
Time for a taste test
As a cauliflower skeptic, I figured the best method for a fair trial was to go with one of Pizza Pizza's already-existing topping options: they offer one with tomato, chicken and pesto, and another with olive oil, garlic, artichoke, and roasted zucchini. I went with the latter, in order to accommodate the vegetarians in the office, and because I'm a big zucchini fan. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake.
We were expecting this, via the press release Pizza Pizza released on Wednesday:
But instead we got this:
The grilled zucchini was missing, and I was very upset.
The seven HuffPost editors who tried the pizza — which included people with a wide range of diets, tastes, allergies, and gluten tolerances — overwhelmingly said the same thing: it's fine. (There was one dissenting view, which we'll get to soon.)
The crust, which also contains rice flour and potato starch, doesn't taste all that different to a regular crust — a fact that was reassuring to me but disappointing to the surprising amount of cauliflower stans in the office. There's a slight hint of a cauliflower earthiness, but it's very subtle, to the point that most of us agreed we wouldn't have recognized cauliflower had we not already known it was there.
It's thinner and flatter than Pizza Pizza's traditional crust — more like flatbread than pizza, a few people noted. And for a healthy alternative, it was surprisingly greasy. (It might have tasted healthier and more complete with zucchini, but I digress.)
More from HuffPost Canada:
So how does it taste to its target audience, people who can't eat gluten? The answer, from acting senior editor Charmaine Noronha, is a resounding "meh." She's had better gluten-free pizza dough made with rice flour, she said, although this one "is chewier than I thought," which was a bonus. She couldn't tell it was made from cauliflower, she added. Overall verdict? "Passable."
The strongest reaction came from perhaps the office's biggest cauliflower fan, Al Donato, who wanted to declare her allegiances before she sent in her review:
"ALIGNMENT: Cauliflower ally, long-time supporter and friend to the cheese curd-looking veggie. I appreciate its aspirations to become a carb in recent years.
VERDICT: Betrayal. Confusion. Anger. Couldn't taste any cauliflower in my slice. Crust didn't taste any different, except maybe slightly more seasoned. Wouldn't pay full-price, but not so horrible that I wouldn't eat again. On the other hand, it's fried and not gross so it's very hangover-friendly!"
Other reviews, from the more apathetic among us, were representative of the majority of the group.
"There's a familiar chew and bite to the dough that's similar to Pizza Pizza's regular crust thanks to the addition of potato and rice flour. In terms of presentation, it's more of a flatbread than a pizza, which should appease crust-haters and sadden dipping sauce crust dunkers. All in all, not bad." — Video editor Brian Vinh Tien Trinh
"Tastes and looks like bread. I actually like it better than their regular crust 'cause I'm not a huge bread person. It has potato and rice flour but it's not gritty like some other gluten-free products. It is really greasy though. But I would eat it again!" — Managing lifestyle editor Lisa Yeung
According to the nutritional facts on Pizza Pizza's website, cauliflower crust does in fact contain fewer calories and fewer carbs than regular crust, but there's no dramatic difference. Ultimately, much like cauliflower itself, this crust is fine but forgettable.
Also on HuffPost: